On Some Problems of Political History of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania in the Light of Current Historiographical Trends

Vitalii Vasylenko
Doctor of Historical Sciences (Dr. hab. in History), Professor,
National Mining University (Ukraine, Dnipropetrovsk),
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DOI: https://doi.org/10.15407/ul2013.02.263

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The article analyzes the influence of current trends of historical knowledge upon lithuanistic studies. despite favorable conditions for development in the past two decades, there essentially was no increase of interest in the political history of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania. Apart from the gradual depletion of the corresponding source base, one of the main reasons for this is the expansion into the post-Soviet territory of some fashionable methodological guidelines of western historical writing, in particular the neglect of the so called «external history». The meaning is that the leftist Western intellectuals (according to their ideology) are looking for new areas of research: microhistory, the history of everyday life, stories of various minorities, gender studies, and others. One of the core problems of the GDL political history is reproduction of an adequate picture of ethno-confessional relations inside this country. In the last half-century there was a fashionable tendency to profess «constructivist» («modernist») concept of nation-building, according to which, nations are a recent and a deliberately constructed phenomena. Despite that, the influence of constructivism on medievalists is relatively small. A lot of its claims are not verified by specific historical material that is backed by works of A.Smith, R.Bartlett et al. Some (e. g. P.Tolochko) advocate the existence of a «single old rus’ nationality», in fact a protonation. However, the history of the Lithuanian

Rus’ State in the 13th – 14th centuries does not offer confirmation for this. Ethno-confessional factors did not play an essential part neither in the civil war of the 1430-ies, nor in the «plot of the dukes» of 1481, nor in the Rebellion of Michajlo Glinski. It seems erroneous to exaggerate the influence of Rus’ political traditions, language and culture on the Grand Duchy of Lithuania and the ruling dynasty also before 1385. In particular, there is not a single example of an open Eastern rite baptism of a supreme ruler of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, or at least a clearly expressed intent to do this.



Grand Duchy of Lithuania, political history, lithuanistic studies, historiography.



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